Green Man Grantchester Christmas Beer Festival

Mulled wine steaming at the bar – tick. Giant marquee out the back containing lots of barrels of really cool well-sourced beers from some of the best local (and regional) brewers around – tick. Stage and a live jazz band – tick. Tons of fairy lights (6000 to be precise) – tick. And lots and lots of Santa hats. This can only mean one thing – the Green Man Grantchester Christmas Beer Festival.

After a 10 minute bus ride to Grantchester (No. 18 from bay 5 in Drummer Street, Cambridge, Mon-Sat only) we arrived at the village and made our way down the High Street to the beautiful 500 year old Green Man pub. The aroma of mulled wine hit us as soon as we entered the building, and we made our way through to the back to the marquee.

At the bar, the bartenders were wearing Santa hats – they needed them to keep warm on this chilly day, but there were several heaters inside the marquee so all was OK. Fairy lights were strung up all along the bar, the ceiling, the seating area opposite – everywhere, and very pretty. There were about 25 or so barrels of beer on at the bar, plus several barrels of cider. Breweries of particular interest to me were Cambridge Moonshine, Redemption, Buntingford, Tydd Steam, Summer Wine and Blue Monkey – mainly because I like their beers, or they were offering new beers I hadn’t tried before. We were handed some printed out tasting notes (much appreciated!) and spent a little while pondering over which beer to go for first. We had a voucher from Explorer mag which meant we got one free pint on our first round (again, much appreciated!) and I went for a Buntingford December.

Redemption Fellowship Porter

We took a seat inside the old pub, by the Christmas tree, and munched on some tasty chunky chips – they go so well with beer. (Inside the marquee they also had a snack menu on offer, including burgers, sandwiches and chips). The Buntingford December, 4.2%, was a pale ale, and light, hoppy, fruity with that unique Buntingford flavour and smell. And freezing cold – hardly surprising considering the weather. Adam’s Redemption Fellowship,5.1%, was a porter full of rich flavours of chocolate and roasty goodness. Lovely beer from an exciting London brewery, and this one was a SIBA gold medal winner.

Next up was Blue Monkey 99 Red Babboons, 4.2%, a ruby red porter crammed full of berries. I couldn’t taste any of the coffee flavour said to be in the beer – just deep berries. Very pleasant. Then it was the Prospect Nutty Slack, 3.9%, a dark mild which won a SIBA National Silver Medal in 2009 – lots of roasted malt flavours and smokiness and very easy to drink.

The Cambridge Moonshine Chocolate Orange Stout, a strong 7.6%, was tasty, rich and dark with a slight bitterness from the chocolate and coffee flavours and lots of hop flavour. I had a nice chat with Mark from Moonshine the other day in Bacchanalia where he was doing a beer tasting session at the Mill Rd Winter Fair, and he is single-handedly making a massive quantity of wonderful beers covering all different beer styles (well, with the help of his dog). I think the Moonshine beers are really exciting and becoming even more so – if you like a massive hop kick see if you can get hold of some Incomparable Beauty (try Bacchanalia). Anyway, I am veering off the subject.

Summer Wine Barista

Next it was Summerwine Barista at 4.8%. This beer shocked me. I ordered a half, thinking that I would find it tough to get through this rich coffee-style beer (named an Espresso Stout) but had to give it a try as this is one of the newest most exciting breweries around. But no. I could have drunk a pint of the stuff if not more. It was like drinking a coffee truffle laced in strong alcohol – which is heaven to me. The aroma of an espresso hits your nose as you take a sip, and this flavour carries through. It was sweet, not bitter at all (although pintsandpubs disagrees with me on this), smooth, roasted malt flavours. Stunning. My beer of the festival.

The last beer was Fellows Jolly Snoutsman, 6.0%, a beer exclusively brewed just up the road in Cottenham for the Green Man. This ruby beer had berry flavours combined with hop and malt flavours and slight spice (cloves?). It wasn’t as effervescent as I would have liked, but was pleasant to drink and had some lovely flavours.

The festival was really well organised, and the staff were very helpful and friendly, offering tasters of the beers available and passing on their knowledge. For a small pub beer festival, they are somehow managing to get hold of beers from some of the most sought-after breweries in the country which even the CAMRA beer festivals don’t always manage to do, so well done guys for making it so exciting. Oh, and if I didn’t say so already, I love all the fairy lights 😉

The Green Man Christmas Beer Festival runs until today, 18th December – get down there before it’s too late!

Published in: on December 18, 2011 at 10:27 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks Louise, glad you enjoyed it! Hopefully the next one will be a little warmer!

  2. Great blog! Last year I spent my holidays mooching round East Anglia, and stopped in Cambridge for a few nights. I found the Green Man fairly soon and spent two very happy evenings there. It beats me why it’s not in the GBG.

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